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Morcha appeals to ex-soldiers to support BJP

Darjeeling, April 9: Bimal Gurung today appealed to ex-servicemen from the hills and the plains to vote for the BJP so that they could impress upon the “coming BJP Government” to start a high-level inquiry into the police lathicharge on retired military and paramilitary personnel in Siliguri on April 9, 2008.

Gurung’s appeal is aimed at getting back the support of the ex-servicemen, many of whom distanced themselves from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha after it had decided to accept the GTA Sabha. Around 20,000 retired soldiers are estimated to be residing in Darjeeling district.

In his post on Facebook, the Morcha president said: “April 9th is considered as the “Blackest Day” for all Gorkhaland supporters as it was in this day in 2008 that our ex servicemen were injured in a lathi charged (sic) by the police when conducting a peaceful rally for Gorkhaland.”

The ex-servicemen had taken out the rally in support of Gorkhaland under the banner of the Bharatiya Gorkha Bhutpurba Sainik Adra Sainik Morcha. They allegedly threw stones at the police and the force ordered the lathicharge. The outfit that took out the rally is an affiliate of the Morcha and Lt. Col. (retd) Ramesh Allay is its president.

“Till date now no proper action has been taken by the government on this matter. The GJM demands a high level enquiry in this incident. I would appeal to all ex servicemen to vote for the BJP so that we are able to convince the coming BJP Government for a high level enquiry in this matter,” Gurung said in his post.

The Left Front government had set up a one-man committee headed by M.L. Meena to probe the incident. Although the committee had submitted its report to the government, it has never been published.

Allay said repeated appeals to the government to make the commission’s report public had gone unheeded. “We are now hoping that if the BJP comes to power, a fresh high-level enquiry will be ordered into the incident,” said Allay.

Today, the Morcha affiliate for the ex-servicemen brought out a car rally from Darjeeling More till Milan More in Siliguri to mark the day. “In the meeting, it was decided that all ex-servicemen would come out in the open and campaign for the BJP,” said Allay.